Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story that's funny but never particularly clever. It's an enjoyable bit of escapist entertainment, mixing some sharp gags in between the more obvious jokes. But while the script makes a feeble attempt to poke fun at over-the-top machismo, it indulges in relentless gender stereotyping.
Now best buddies, co-dads Dusty and Brad (Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell) decide to combine their families to celebrate Christmas this year. Then Dusty's estranged tough-guy dad Kurt (Mel Gibson) turns up, as does Brad's more touchy-feely father Don (John Lithgow). This raises issues for both Dusty and Brad, who are clearly chips off the old blocks. They may be united in their love for their kids (Owen Vaccaro, Scarlett Estevez and Didi Costine), but old rivalries spark as they take the family to a huge mountain cabin with their wives (Alessandra Ambrosio and Linda Cardellini). What follows is a combination of wacky slapstick and various forms of sabotage as Dusty and Brad's bromance is put through the wringer.
None of this is remotely original, with elaborate set-pieces that feel like they've been lifted wholesale from other holiday comedies. And the plot is never remotely surprising either. But the actors have chemistry, and invest some sparkiness in their characters. Much of the antics centre on the clash between Gibson and Lithgow, who play up the aggression and sweetness, respectively. It's badly exaggerated, but the actors throw themselves into the roles, and the interaction between the three generations is nutty enough to keep the audience chuckling even through some rather stupid gags. The filmmakers seem to think that crazed conflict is hilarious, but actually the funniest moments are when Walhberg and Ferrell are working together to approach a problem.
Continue reading: Daddy's Home 2 Review
An odd mix of sentimental family warmth and gross-out antics, this comedy doesn't have the courage of its own convictions, which means that it's not quite funny enough to keep the audience fully entertained. That said, there are just about enough laughs that hit the target, and the big-hearted humour is surprisingly endearing, with larger themes that resonate even when the filmmakers get bogged down in the strained rude jokes.
Will Ferrell plays Brad, a guy who can't have kids but has always wanted to be a dad. So when he marries Sarah (Linda Cardellini), he enthusiastically dives into the stepdad role with her children (Owen Vaccaro and Scarlett Estevez). Then just as they're finally warming to him, their biological father Dusty (Mark Walhberg) turns up, clearly determined to win his family back. What follows is a battle between a too-nice dork and a super-cool biker, competing for the affections of both Sarah and the kids. Brad gets some terrible advice from his boss (Thomas Haden Church), while Dusty recruits a handyman (Hannibal Buress) to back his side.
There's plenty of potential in this premise, but the filmmakers refuse to make the decision about who the film is aimed at. It's too vulgar to be family entertainment, but it's not edgy enough to properly appeal to adults. So it sits there genially, occasionally sparking a burst of laughter or a knowing smile. But the plot never makes any sense, mainly because to make it work the filmmakers portray Brad as a complete and utter loser until the moment the movie needs him to be the good guy. All of which is painfully predictable, complete with shamelessly sappy moralising. Thankfully, the cast can play these kinds of characters effortlessly, and both Ferrell and Walhberg add details that keep the audience engaged.
Continue reading: Daddy's Home Review
Brad is a good-natured and very correct radio executive who has also wanted to have children of his own. Since marrying his beautiful new wife, his dream comes true when he becomes the stepfather to two delightful children named Megan and Dylan. As much as he tries to be a father to them, however, they are not entirely filled with respect for him; something that becomes a problem when their real father Dusty Mayron phones up out of the blue. He's everything Brad isn't; handsome, super cool and a total god in the eyes of his children. When Dusty moves back over to spend time with his children, he and Brad find themselves battling each other for the kids' affections, doing everything they can to out-do each other in parenting. Can these two completely different souls ever become friends? Or will they remain parental rivals forever?
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Be warned: this is a movie meant only for hardcore fans of the 1994 original, and other moronic comedies in which plot, character and filmmaking coherence aren't important. If any fart joke makes you laugh, don't miss it. Everyone else probably already knows that they should avoid this movie, which is even more idiotic than it looks. Although for those forced to suffer through it, there's at least a strand of witty, absurd comedy faintly running through each scene.
After an utterly pointless 20-year practical joke, old buddies Harry and Lloyd (Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey) are once again a team, causing chaos everywhere they go due to their inability to understand pretty much anything that's happening around them. Now Harry needs a kidney transplant, just as he discovers that he fathered a child with Fraida (Kathleen Turner) nearly 23 years ago. So he and Lloyd head off to find his daughter Fanny (Rachel Melvin). She has been raised by a Nobel-winning scientist (Steve Tom) and his money-grabbing wife (Laurie Holden), who's plotting with the handyman (Rob Riggle) to steal his millions. All of them converge on an inventors' convention in El Paso, where Harry is mistaken as a genius, Lloyd falls in love with the wrong woman and everything climaxes in a vortex of mistaken identity and wacky slapstick.
While absolutely everything about this film is painfully stupid, filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly have learned from making solid comedies (like There's Something About Mary and Stuck on You), and the script has an underlying wit to it that hints at a much better movie screaming to get out. But the Farrellys simply leave everything as mindless as possible, using a strangely clunky directing style that feels cheap and underplanned. While there's a steady stream of amusing throwaway gags, the plot and characters never develop into anything engaging, mainly because both Carrey and Daniels are encouraged to overplay every moment so badly that we begin to wonder how anyone could think this was even vaguely funny.
Continue reading: Dumb And Dumber To Review
Like The Hangover, Horrible Bosses was a movie no one really wanted to see a sequel to, but here it is anyway: the same film, but even more inane. It is also likely to make plenty of money from audiences looking for mindless entertainment on a Saturday night. Although "mindless" seems almost complimentary when a movie is as idiotic as this one is. There's so little to its plot that the whole film seems to evaporate before the end of the climactic chase scene.
It's been a couple of years since Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) tried to solve their problems by trying to kill their bosses. Instead, they've become inventors, and have just sold their Shower Buddy to a popular catalogue company owned by Bert (Christoph Waltz). They go all out to fill his order, putting their necks on the line, and Bert leaves them hanging there. Faced with the prospect of losing everything, they again consult their criminal pal Jones (Jamie Foxx), who helps them launch a "kidnaping". The idea is to grab Bert's son Rex (Chris Pine) and demand a ransom to cover their debts. But Rex takes over the operation, asking for a lot more cash and causing a lot more chaos. They also run into a couple of their old bosses: sex-crazed Julia (Jennifer Aniston) is still determined to sleep with Dale, while Harken (Kevin Spacey) can still freak them out from behind bars.
Director-writer Anders and cowriter Morris use almost the exact same formula this time, going for laughs in a carefully plotted caper in which everything that can go wrong does. Although instead of merely being inept, these people are all morons. Bateman's Nick is essentially the straight man in the movie, and even he fails to notice that they've borrowed and spent a vast sum of cash without even a simple contract with Bert. Meanwhile, Kurt and Dale are mind-achingly stupid, bungling every single moment so completely that it's hard to see them as functioning adults. Pine isn't much better, but at least we haven't seen this schtick from him before, and he's rather good at it.
Continue reading: Horrible Bosses 2 Review
Consistently amusing but never uproariously funny, this comedy plays it relatively safely by gently subverting our expectations of Aniston and Roberts, while making rising-star Poulter the butt of most jokes. There's just enough rude humour to keep fans of adult-oriented comedies happy, even if the movie continually reveals a squidgy-soft underbelly of sentimentality. But it's fun while it lasts.
The chaos begins when happy small-time Denver pot dealer David (Sudeikis) is robbed, leaving him indebted to his supplier Brad (Helms). Then he's offered a way out: travel to Mexico and collect a "smidge" of weed to smuggle back across the border in an RV. To increase his chances of getting through without an inspection, he creates a fake family from his neighbours: desperate stripper Rose (Aniston), lonely geek Kenny (Poulter) and homeless tough-girl Casey (Roberts). And the fact that they struggle to act like a convincing family is the least of their problems as they're chased by two vicious goons (Sisley and Willig) and befriended by a too-friendly couple (Offerman and Hahn) along the road.
Yes, this is one of those road comedies in which something unexpected happens every step of the way. Sudeikis rides out the film relatively unruffled, while Aniston's big scene is a scorchingly over-the-top striptease performed to distract a drug kingpin. Roberts' only subplot is a silly liaison with a moronic skater (Young). These sequences are carefully calculated to be mildly funny but never embarrassing to the big American stars. On the other hand, acclaimed British actor Poulter (see Son of Rambow and Wild Bill) dives in to his humiliating scenarios with gusto, from an awkward romance with another girl (Quinn) to kissing practice with his "mother" and "sister" to a ghastly spider bite. In the process, he walks off with the whole film.
Continue reading: We're The Millers Review
Fortunately, it's also rather good fun.
Tom Popper (Carrey) is a high-powered Manhattan developer trying to earn a partnership in his firm by buying the iconic Tavern on the Green from its elderly owner (Lansbury). Like his intrepid explorer dad, he barely keeps up with his kids (Carroll and Cotton) from his marriage to Amanda (Gugino), whom he clearly still cares for. Then his father dies and leaves him six mischievous penguins, and all of Tom's careful plans fall apart. First, the birds make a mess of his immaculately minimalist bachelor pad, then they teach him Important Life Lessons.
Continue reading: Mr. Popper's Penguins Review
Two years after taking a break from his girlfriend (Sloane), geeky airport security guard Kirk (Baruchel) still pines for her. Then he meets the unspeakably hot Molly (Eve), who improbably takes an interest in him. But Kirk's buddies (Miller, Vogel and Torrence) and his parents (Rupp and LeFevre) wonder how this dork could land such a gorgeous, smart, successful girl. The truth might be that he's not such a loser after all. But how will he ever believe that?
Continue reading: She's Out Of My League Review
After a bad breakup, Adam (Cusack) gathers his chucklehead pal Lou (Corddry) and sensibly married buddy Nick (Robinson), plus Adam's nerdy nephew Jacob (Duke), for a skiing holiday in a resort they knew 25 years ago. But after a dip in the hot tub, they find themselves in 1986, reliving a fateful weekend during which they try to resist changing history. Awash in a riot of off-primary coloured clothing, the three friends try to re-navigate old waters while Jacob attempts to make sure that he's conceived on schedule.
Continue reading: Hot Tub Time Machine Review
Thank God! Almost as good as the original, Toy Story 2 is an unabashed crowd-pleaser to children and adults. With enough (non-offensive) adult humor and plenty of good-natured kid stuff, this film had our tiny audience in stitches from start to finish.
Continue reading: Toy Story 2 Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...
An odd mix of sentimental family warmth and gross-out antics, this comedy doesn't have the...
Brad is a good-natured and very correct radio executive who has also wanted to have...
Be warned: this is a movie meant only for hardcore fans of the 1994 original,...
Like The Hangover, Horrible Bosses was a movie no one really wanted to see a...
Consistently amusing but never uproariously funny, this comedy plays it relatively safely by gently subverting...
Yes, this movie is just as silly as it looks, with Jim Carrey pratfalling all...
For all its rude humour and chucklehead antics, this is actually a sweet and shy...
For a film produced by and starring John Cusack, this is unusually corny. But there's...
Speaking in semi-awe of two snorting, greasy teenage vulgarians, Lance (Clark Duke) diagnoses their problem...
Previously destined for a straight-to-video release, the Toys are back in the long-awaited sequel to...